SA to SA in a Week

One week, I was ‘soaking’ up the sun, sea and sand in South Africa; the next I was ‘sweating it up’ in the sun, sea (well, sort of…….) and sand of Saudi Arabia.

After, what is turning out to be an annual pilgrimage back to South Africa for yet another wedding (not mine this time……..), it was back on a plane off to Saudi Arabia, to oversee the construction of the golf course at the King Abdullah City.

So what is King Abdullah City you ask?
Well, it’s so much more than just a property development on a massive scale. Located an hour north of Jeddah on the Red Sea coastline, the city has been Masterplanned as a modern, world-class metropolis, which will become one of the most important cities for Saudi Arabia, providing a permanent home for two million people.

The Golf Course is situated in the ‘Resort Cove’ and forms part of phase 1 of the overall construction schedule for the city.

After a particularly slow start to the Golf Course construction process (some major issues such as irrigation water, procurement of suitable materials…….etc, have had to be dealt with), work is beginning to gather some speed. Shaping is almost complete on Holes 4 and 8, and it is very pleasing to finally see the course starting to take shape…………….however, the only downside to work in Saudi Arabia is that the cool, refreshing, thirst quenching beer I had after a day in the South Africa sun building ‘sand castles’ on Camps Bay Beach, always seems a very long way away!

My Top 10 Courses

When asked to put together my Top 10 list of Golf Courses, my initial plan was to put together a list of the Top Ten courses, Played!

I quickly realised that unfortunately, unlike some of my fellow work colleagues who have been fortunate to have been brought up, or lived in, Scotland, ‘The Home of Golf’, comparatively I hadn’t played on that many great golf courses!

I would not like to put this entirely down to my South African roots, as there are some great golf courses in SA, (some of which are on the list, and helped generate my passion for the game) however, I feel that personally, it would be more appropriate for me to put together two lists: ‘Top 5 Golf Courses – Played’ and ‘Top 5 Golf Courses – Wanting to Play’

So here it is.

Top 5 Golf Courses – Played.

1. Turnberry Ailsa, Scotland.
Most probably the finest stretch of golf holes from 4 thru 11. (Definitely the finest I have ever played) It may have been a cold March morning when I played the course, but it didn’t matter, just loved it!

2. Humewood GC, South Africa.
Not at all on the list because it was a 2 minute drive from the University and cost only R20 (£1.30) a round!!! The finest links course in South Africa, great challenge especially when the wind blows – which it always does!

3. Sunningdale New, England.
Over the road from the office, and have been fortunate enough to play there a few times now. Some of the best green complexes around!

4. Portmarnock Links, Ireland.
No bias because it was designed by Stan, but it truly is a little gem on the outskirts of Dublin. (Also, not on the list cos Gary and I, gave Will and Alex a hiding!)

5. Gary Player Country Club – Sun City, South Africa.
Growing up in SA, watching the Million Dollar on tv (now, the Nedbank Challenge), this course was always the one you wanted to play. A tough and challenging course, which is always in fantastic condition.

Top 5 Golf Course – Wanting to Play, ‘The Wish List’.

1. Augusta National, America.
Name me a golfer who doesn’t? Would be happy just to visit, but to play it would be something else.

2. St Andrews, Scotland.
A close second to Augusta, definitely on the ‘hit list’ for the coming year.

3. Cypress Point, America.
‘Have you seen the pictures?’ enough said!

4. Royal Melbourne West, Australia.
No list would be complete without a trip to Aus to play on beauty. Love the bunkers!

5. Durban Country Club, South Africa.
A dark horse on this list, but for all the times I went on holiday to Durban, never got the opportunity to play on this world renowned course, still want to!